Betty Broderick faces two trials for the murders of Dan Broderick and Linda Kolkena.
Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Season Two Episode Eight “Perception is Reality,” directed by Maggie Kiley, documents the two trials that lead to Betty being sentenced for two counts of second-degree murder. The first trial ended with a hung jury because a couple of the jurors thought that she was pushed to the mental breaking point and can’t be legally blamed for her actions. In the second case, the prosecutor was able to show that Betty broke into Broderick’s house with the intent to shoot Dan and Linda. The jurors did not all agree it was first-degree murder, but they decided she deserved the second-degree charge meaning two consecutive 15 years to life sentences.
In the first trial, Betty became too confident that she would get away with killing Linda and Dan. She enjoys testifying in front of the court. The prosecutor Well’s questions backfire when she asks Betty how she lost all her friends because she was always complaining about Dan. The defendant explained how she quit all of her activities because all she could think about anything but the next court date. Betty muses that she doesn’t know if she lost friends or they lost her.
Meanwhile, back in the jail, Betty glows with glee with the amount of fan mail she receives from women from all over the country. Betty has zero remorse for murdering two people; instead, she giggles as she looks through letters from women who can empathize with her divorce struggles. She outright laughs as she shows other inmates a little handkerchief with the phrase ” Free Betty Broderick so She can Kill another Lawyer” stitched on. When the judge declares a mistrial because the jury is deadlocked, Betty is convinced that she won’t ever be found guilty.
“Perception is Reality” does a great job of showing why all these different jurors can’t decide a verdict. The judge asks each juror if they agree that they are hopelessly deadlocked, then there is an edit to them in front of the press explaining why. For example, Juror Number One tells the media that he doesn’t think that Betty went to the house to kill herself like the defense claims, but that she was provoked. There is an edit showing Juror Number Ten saying, “Yes, your honor,” then explaining to the press that he thought that everybody has a breaking point. There is a voice-over of the older man speaking as Betty cries tears of joy, nodding as the jurors agree that they are deadlocked. The sequence ends with Juror Number Ten, stating that he wondered what took her so long to shoot them by the end of the trial.
Betty enjoys all of the love and support from her fans too much. The rest of the episode demonstrates how mentally deranged she is throughout this process. Her lawyer Jack warns Betty not to get too confident, but she doesn’t listen. The defendant focuses on the fact that she is now receiving packages of support from all over the world. Betty thinks the next trial will end with a hung jury; then, they will let her go. She wants Jack to fight for bail, but he points out that the court will never give one to a double murderer. Betty uses Jeffrey Dahmer receiving an impossible one million dollar bail as a reason why they should fight for bail. She jokes that they would set her bail if she had eaten her victims. Betty playfully bites at her lawyer.
Press swarm around Betty for interviews because of all the true crime buzz. In the interviews, she discusses how Dan mistreated her during the end of their marriage, revealing that he was able to walk all of her because of gender disparity. I agree that Dan emotionally abused Betty, but that is not the whole story. Her behavior before and during the murder was destructive. Jack warns her about doing these interviews because he has a bad feeling about the reporters. Betty enjoys the adoration and attention, so she disregards his advice. She arrogantly thinks that the way she tells her story on the stand and in the press will gain sympathy.
When Betty speaks to the People Magazine reporter, she makes a critical mistake. The reporter flatters Betty by talking about how her supporters empathize with her plight because she is a woman “scorned.” She tells Betty that one woman near San Diego said that the shooting was a bit of “prairie justice.” The reporter asks what Betty thinks. Betty giggles into her hand, saying she can’t tell her what she thinks. She should have said no comment. There is no excuse in murdering anybody, especially Linda, who was stuck between two vindictive spouses.
In the first trial, the prosecutor Wells never asks Betty what happened in the bedroom, but she fixes that omission in the second trial. The prosecutor proves that at the very least, Betty intentionally shot Linda and Dan. The defendant states that her hand accidentally tightened around the trigger in the dark bedroom. She couldn’t even see them. Wells points out that she shot Dan and Linda several times with a revolver that required Betty to squeeze the trigger several times and aim since each of her victims were on different sides of the bed.
The finale ends with Betty sitting in prison. There is a voice-over of Betty singing her and Dan’s “song.” She hallucinates Young Dan in the cell with her. There is a sequence with scenes that show versions of past events where Dan or Betty treated each other and their family with more respect. For example, Betty doesn’t leave her kids at Dan’s house. Then Betty stares at Dan and Linda, holding each other. She is stuck in prison for the rest of her life with the couple she murdered in cold blood.
Betty wanted peace, but those twelve jurors made sure she was stuck with her victims for the rest of her life.